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Cyprus News Agency: News in English, 12-01-12
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From: The Cyprus News Agency at <http://www.cyna.org.cy>
 FM: We will complete successfully the EU presidencyThe government of the Republic of Cyprus will not allow Turkish provocations and threats to affect the handling of the Cypriot presidency of the European Union, Minister of Foreign Affairs Dr Erato Kozakou-Marcoullis has said.
In an interview with the Cyprus News Agency, Marcoullis said Cyprus is determined to successfully and effectively complete the historic challenge that arises from undertaking the EU presidency in the second half of 2012.
We should also contribute, she added, in our capacity, in the formation of a common future for Europe and its people.
A successful Cypriot presidency, she remarked, will give added calibre and prestige to Cyprus, both in Europe but also in the rest of the world.
Regarding her recent visit to Washington, Marcoullis told CNA that there is room to further develop and enhance relations with the US in many fields, such as energy, for which the US has shown keen interest, especially after the discovery of natural gas reserves in Cyprus Block 12 in its Exclusive Economic Zone.
On the Cyprus problem, Marcoullis said that Nicosia wants Washington to continue its firm support of the ongoing direct negotiations and convey the right messages to Ankara to find a just and functional solution to the Cyprus issue. Referring to the discovery of hydrocarbons in Cyprus Exclusive Economic Zone, the Cypriot Minister said this provides opportunities that should be seized for the countrys benefit but also for the benefit of the wider region.
Commenting on regional developments following the collapse of regimes in Arab countries, she said Cyprus should continue to contribute to stability in the region in a number of ways.
Regarding measures to avert stronger ties between the illegal Turkish Cypriot regime with the Organisation of Islamic Conference, Marcoullis said moves by the government, in many cases, have curtailed attempts by the regime to upgrade its links with OIC countries.
On US-Cyprus ties and her recent meeting with her American counterpart, Hillary Clinton, Marcoullis said that Cyprus maintains very friendly relations with the US, which have been significantly strengthened in recent years, through cooperation in many sectors of mutual interest and benefit, such as the economy and trade, as a result of a positive climate, relevant legislation and structures which attract companies and investment, as well as the agreement to avoid double taxation which led many American companies to operate from Cyprus and do business with European countries, the Middle East, Asia and Africa.
There is also close cooperation in combating terrorism, said Marcoullis, due to Cyprus geographic position and its role as an international maritime centre.
There is room to further enhance relations with the US in many sectors, such as the very promising sector of energy, for which the US has exhibited special interest, especially after the existence of large quantities of hydrocarbons was confirmed in Cyprus EEZ and the excellent relations with the US company Noble Energy International, Marcoullis said.
As far as the Cyprus issue is concerned, Marcoullis remarked that the US believes a solution is not only necessary for peace and security in the Eastern Mediterranean but will also act as a catalyst in the accession of Turkey to the EU. They have assured that they will continue to exert their influence towards Turkey to change its stance.
Asked where she believes a greater effort is required for a more effective foreign policy, Marcoullis said that bearing in mind the small size of Cyprus, the limited resources and the political problem we have to address, dealing with a powerful country Turkey, the Foreign Ministry is making every effort to be represented as best as possible in the European and international arena.
Cyprus, she added, is the easternmost and southernmost member of the European Union and has a geographic position that is central between East and West. This position has always played an important role in the geostrategic interests of the region from ancient times until now and has always been the focus of interest of powerful forces. Its geostrategic value remains unchanged over the years and I would add that the recent discovery of hydrocarbons in the Eastern Mediterranean has upgraded the geostrategic and geophysical position of Cyprus as well as the interest of the international community.
We aim to exploit the geostrategic and geopolitical significance of Cyprus through a multifaceted and dynamic foreign policy which will highlight the added value of Cyprus and what it has to offer both in the EU and the wider region, she said.
Marcoullis said that the rapidly changing political and social developments in the Eastern Mediterranean, Middle East and North Africa have created new facts in the region and Cyprus seeks to highlight, at the greatest possible level, its regional role.
Our traditional excellent political and economic relations with these countries allow Cyprus to become a genuine and unbiased link for the EU with Arab countries. For this reason, we are scheduling specific initiatives with the aim to upgrade the relations of the EU and the Arab League, she noted. The discovery and exploitation of hydrocarbons in the countrys Exclusive Economic Zone can make Cyprus a hub not only for the production of energy but also for sharing hydrocarbons with neighbouring states for export to the EU, she explained. That way, she said, we can show that Cyprus can contribute to the energy balance of the EU and to secure an alternative energy supply, helping the EU withdraw its dependence from third countries from which it imports either natural gas or oil.
At the same time, said Marcoullis, we will give emphasis on a targeted economic, political and energy diplomacy that will allow us to promote our positions and to further create common bonds and interests with other states. The main aim of this diplomacy is bilateral relations that will promote economic, trade, and cultural relations with Cyprus and the countries of the region, turning Cyprus into a bridge between Europe and North Africa and Middle East countries, she added.
Asked how Cyprus can contribute to stability in the region, after the collapse of Arab regimes, Marcoullis said Cyprus is directly affected by regional developments, not only because of existing political and economic bonds but also because of its close proximity to these countries and the immigration influx.
Cyprus can, wants and should contribute to the stability of the region in a number of ways. Firstly, our EU membership and the Presidency we shall exercise is a unique opportunity to concentrate our attention on our partners and the rest of the international community. Bilaterally, we support the association of political and economic involvement and assistance of the EU to neighbouring states which are moving faster towards democracy and rule of law, she told CNA.
Asked about discussion between Cyprus and Lebanon on the agreement to delineate Lebanese EEZ, Marcoullis said that first indications are that the meetings that have been held are very positive and confirm the constructive role which Cyprus can have with countries in the Eastern Mediterranean.
On efforts to prevent improved relations between the illegal regime in the Turkish occupied north of Cyprus and the OIC, Marcoullis said the Organizations efforts to upgrade relations with the illegal regime are mainly due to its SG Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, who is of Turkish origin and is trying to promote Turkish interests through the organization.
Our embassies make strong representations to the Foreign Ministries of OIC members about the Organizations activities which aim to upgrade relations with the illegal regime which have often led to restricting relations between the OIC and the illegal regime, Marcoullis said, adding that there is support within the OIC which disagrees with the Organizations policy on the Cyprus issue.
On the significance of July 1st 2012 for Cyprus, Marcoullis said the presidency of the European Union is an historic challenge and a great bet that we must win. She said as a new member state and one of the smallest in the EU we are called to undertake a huge task to coordinate and promote European policy in many aspects for six whole months.
It is an historic opportunity for us to contribute, as best as we can, to achieve the great visions and aims of the EU but also a strategic investment for an effective participation in European proceedings, the Minister told CNA.
A successful Cypriot presidency will add to the prestige of the Republic of Cyprus both at a European environment and internationally. This will effectively strengthen Cyprus clout and increase its allies within and outside the EU. The Presidency is pivotal to Cyprus and to carry it through successfully, we must pursue wider cooperation with all institutions and sectors as well as with civil society, she said.
Invited to identify the greatest challenge of the Ministry, Marcoullis told CNA that the FM has a leading role to play. During our presidency, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will host the informal Foreign Ministers Council as well as more than 25 meetings, which will take place in various towns of Cyprus, with the participation of ministers and high level officials from all member states and EU institutions.
However, she added, the greatest burden lies with the Republics Permanent Representation to the EU, in Brussels and Luxembourg, where the biggest number of meetings will be held, which include the two European Council meetings, 60 meetings at ministerial level and more than 1500 meetings on working group level.
The Councils Working Groups which fall under the responsibility of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, either in Brussels or elsewhere, amount to more than 60. Officials of the FM who will chair Working Groups are receiving intensive training to make the best possible appearance during the presidency, Marcoullis said, adding that all preparatory work at the EU Council is being done by Working Groups, since the decisions taken by ministers depend on the officers preparations. That is why the role of these officers is crucial.
Marcoullis said the Ministrys cooperation with the European Foreign Action Service is of critical significance in promoting EU foreign policy. The Foreign Minister of the presiding country plays an integral part in the success of European external policy, in cooperation with the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. The Cypriot Minister will be expected to represent the EU in many international meetings, following an understanding with Catherine Ashton. My Danish counterpart has been informed that he will attend 24 such meetings, she added.
Marcoullis said that one of the fundamental challenges of foreign affairs issues is strengthening the Neighbouring Policy, and especially reinforcing relations with countries south of the EU. As far as countries of the Middle East and North Africa are concerned, she said, we aim to make an important contribution to the stability and welfare of these countries, which are being tried by the extended political crisis and unprecedented revolutionary movements and reforms. Asked how Cyprus can achieve a successful presidency amidst threats over its sovereign rights to locate and explore its own hydrocarbon reserves in its EEZ, bearing in mind that Turkey, a country that is holding accession negotiations with the EU, does not recognize the country which holds the presidency, Marcoullis replied that the structural ingredients of a successful presidency include excellent preparation and setting goals and drafting strategies to achieve these objectives.
She said that Cyprus is well ahead in the preparatory process and continues to work with consistency and cooperation with all partners to achieve a positive and credible result. The Republic of Cyprus is determined to complete with success and effectiveness the historic challenge of the EU Presidency. Our aim is not to allow the Turkish threats and provocations to influence the handling of the Cypriot presidency and to contribute in our own way, at the level of our abilities, to formulate a joint future for Europe and its people, she stressed.
Turkey whose troops occupy Cyprus northern part since they invaded in 1974 does not recognise the Republic of Cyprus. Following a decision by Nicosia to begin natural gas and oil exploration in its EEZ, Ankara has deployed warships in the Eastern Mediterranean and has signed an illegal agreement with the Turkish Cypriot regime in occupied Cyprus to delineate what it calls continental shelf.
Cyprus has signed an agreement to delineate the Exclusive Economic Zone with Egypt and Israel with a view to exploit any possible natural gas and oil reserves in its EEZ. A similar agreement has been signed with Lebanon but the Lebanese Parliament has not yet ratified it.
 Denmark and Cyprus strive for a better EuropePresident of the Republic of Cyprus Demetris Christofias held a meeting Wednesday in Copenhagen with Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt.
The meeting took place in the framework of an official event to mark the commencement of the Danish Presidency of the Council of the EU.
According to an official press release, during the meeting Christofias and Thorning Schmidt reaffirmed their common goals for a better Europe during the assumption of their EU presidencies.
Both countries would strive for a better Europe which, by addressing the economic crisis and launching actions of social cohesion, could return to growth and be more concentrated on EU citizens, the press release says.
 UN Cyprus envoy Alexander Downer Interview to CNAThe UN aims at a good outcome on three outstanding core issues governance, citizenship and property - at a meeting later this month in New York, between the UN Secretary General and the leaders of the islands two communities.
The UN also believes that there cannot be a conclusion of the ongoing Cyprus peace process without an international conference, with the participation of the three guarantor powers of Cyprus independence, namely Greece, Turkey and Britain. In an interview with CNA, ahead of the meeting on 23-24 January 2012 at Greentree, New York, UN Secretary Generals Special Advisor on Cyprus Alexander Downer said it is possible to clinch an agreement on outstanding core issues if there is political will and a spirit for compromise, which he believes both leaders, Cyprus President Demetris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu, have and display at the negotiating table.
The meeting at Greentree will be either a success or a failure, Downer said, rejecting expressions such as make or break with regard to the peace process. Downer said the two leaders will need to fix three real issues, namely the election of a rotating presidency and vice presidency, agreement on who will get citizenship of the United Cyprus Republic and conclusion of property concerns, in conjunction with territorial adjustments.
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